All she had was that black & white photo of herself as a 3-month-old baby, with her head wrapped tightly in gauze as she was cradled to a calm in the arms of a mysterious nurse.
Amanda Scarpinati, was that baby.1
She had accidentally slipped off the sofa and fell onto a steam vaporizer that was at boiling point. The mentholated ointment of the vaporizer burnt her skin and she needed numerous painful reconstructive surgeries for years after that.
Although her face was scarred by those burns, for which she was bullied and made fun of, that photo was what she took as a source of comfort, to know that there was one woman who sincerely cared for her.
Amanda grew up to be a stunning woman, who is a human resources manager and lives in Albany. But, since that day, all Amanda could truly dream of, for the past 38 years, was meeting that nurse again.
After searching for over 20 years, with no success, she thought she’d given up. But after being motivated again by her friend, Amanda posted that photo on Facebook and asked for people’s help to search for this mystery nurse.
Within half a day, the post went viral and made over 5000 shares nation-wide.
By the end of the day, she was informed that the mystery nurse’s identity was that of Susan Berger, who was just 21 at the time. Her colleague at the hospital back then, named Angela Leary, was the one that recognized the photo and told Amanda who she was.
Amanda finally contacted Susan, and they met at a medical center conference room, where they were both overcome with emotion. They sobbed and hugged each other, as camera’s took a new photo of them together after 38 years.
All Amanda could say was: “Oh my God, you’re real! Thank you!” And Susan replied, “No, Thank YOU”, because she doesn’t know how many nurses or even doctors would be lucky enough to have a patient remember, let alone search to meet and thank them for their help, after all these years.
Susan said, she remembered her too, as Amanda was one of the more calm and trusting babies that came out of surgery, while others were wailing or sleeping. Susan told Amanda, that she had been a fresh-graduate at the time. Amanda was one of her very first patients, as a baby, but Susan is now reaching the end of her career, at the Casenovia College health center, New York.
Amanda’s dream to see her ‘wonder woman’ as a baby, finally came true, as all she wanted to do was thank Susan for showing her love, care and most importantly, ‘hope’, even if she had no idea who she was, besides being a nurse and her hero.
Later revealed, that picture was taken for the 1977 Albany Medical Center annual report, by a photographer named Carl Howard, who did not label the people in the photo.
So maybe sometimes, the memories we preserve in whatever form, with whoever it may be known or unknown, could be one of a lifelong friendship that you had no idea about. And sometimes, what could be a snapshot after a traumatic experience could become the reason you remember and reconnect with someone who was there for you, just like Amanda and Susan’s story.
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